Gags in the insipid sex comedy "Boat Trip" are both lame and crass, meaning you not only don't laugh but stifle groans. If a woman says to a man, "Spit it out", you know he'll throw up. If a banana appears on camera, some idiot will discover its phallic possibilities. And any swimming pool requires a person to fall in. How did Oscar-winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. get marooned in this misfired mess?
The lowbrow comedy directed by Mort Nathan (from his and William Bigelow's script) will mostly appeal to under-25 males and, thanks to Gooding and Vivica A. Fox, to blacks. Business for Artisan will be iffy in theatrical release, but it may clean up in video, where no-brainer comedies work best.
To shake his buddy Jerry (Gooding) out of a six-month funk over his breakup with girlfriend Felicia Fox), Nick (Horatio Sanz) arranges a singles cruise in the Medi-terranean for both men. Only they wind up on a gay cruise ship. After exhausting every imaginable joke about homophobia, the filmmakers allow the two buddies to meet real women. For Jerry, this means Gabriella (Roselyn Sanchez), an I'm-through-with-love dance instructor. For Nick, it's the Swedish bikini tanning team, whose helicopter he accidentally shoots down with a flare gun. The team, a tribute to the benefits of plastic surgery, is lead by the pneumonic Inga (Victoria Silvstedt) and her tough-as-painted-nails coach Sonya (Lin Shaye).
Jerry falls in love but must pretend to be gay to stay in the company of man-phobic Gabriella. Nick reveals himself to be a flaming heterosexual right away to Inga but runs afoul of her coach's training regimen.
One could complain about the gay stereotypes, but the heterosexual ones are much worse. Indeed the one redeeming element here is the presence of Roger Moore, more or less playing James Bond as an aging queen. Otherwise, a more apt complaint would focus on tired gags and frantic overacting by Gooding and Sanz, who play most scenes with barely contained hysteria. Ditto Fox, as a high-strung, pampered Beverly Hills bitch. By contrast, Sanchez plays her character in a lower key, which allows her to be smooth and sexy without trying half as hard.
For Gooding fans, the highlight -- or low light, depending on one's point of view -- comes when he performs a lip-sync dance routine to "I'm Coming Out", garbed in gold chains, jockstrap, white boots, peacock feathers and a headdress worthy of Mardi Gras.
Motion Picture Corporation of America/Gemini Group/Apollo Media
Director: Mort Nathan
Screenwriters: Mort Nathan, William Bigelow
Producers: Brad Krevoy, Gerhard Schmidt, Frank Hubner, Andrew Sugerman
Executive producer: Sabine Muller
Director of photography: Shawn Maurer
Production designer: Charles Breen
Music: Robert Folk
Costume designer: Tim Chappel
Editor: John Axness
Jerry: Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Nick: Horatio Sanz
Felicia: Vivica A. Fox
Gabriela: Roselyn Sanchez
Hector: Maurice Godin
Sonja: Lin Shaye
Inga: Victoria Silvstedt
Lloyd: Roger Moore
Malcolm: Richard Roundtree
Running time -- 95 minutes
MPAA rating: R
Filmed in English, visually never a bore, but so relentlessly grim in its tone and story line that it becomes ludicrous, "I Am Dina" could be called "I Am Destruction and Death".
Unspooling in the official competition, "Dina" is very robust filmmaking and boasts a cast that includes Gerard Depardieu, Christopher Eccleston and many veterans, but it's unlikely to garner attention outside Europe. Most problematic is Bornedal's misguided attempt to sustain a one-note tone of emotional instability for two hours. No one is given more than a moment's relief in the film from the madness of the lead character.
Starring Maria Bonnevie ("The 13th Warrior") in an energetic but ultimately cliched performance of gaping mouth and crazy eyes, "Dina" opens with the title character as a happy 8-year-old living in Northern Norway during the 1860s.
Mere moments go by before she causes an accident and her mother is hideously killed by a tipped-over vat of boiling lye. Dina's father (Bjorn Floberg) blames the child, and she's forever a haunted being, compensating for the stigma of accidental homicide by abusing almost every man, woman and child who crosses her path.
Indeed, Dina grows up playing the cello, riding horses and head-butting Dad when he tries to impose his will. Apparently a woman of WNBA proportions in the book, Bonnevie is believable throwing punches and kneeing the testicles of her hapless beaus, but these displays of strength -- accompanied by animalistic roars -- are more monstrous than admirable. Married off to a local businessman (Depardieu) who doesn't know what he's in for, Dina finds something she likes in sex -- with her on top and in control, of course.
While her husband is away, she carries on with childhood friend Tomas (Hans Matheson). She's able to conjure her mother's ghost and during a trip to town has a strange connection with a man in the process of being hanged. It's this scene that introduces her to the eventual love of her life, Russian anarchist Leo (Eccleston), though it's just him seeing her from a distance.
Destruction and death ensue.
Depardieu dies horribly from a leg injury. Tomas gets more random visits for meaningless copulation. Niels (Mads Mikkelsen), a stepson of Depardieu's character, is discovered to be an embezzler and drunkenly rapes the wet nurse (Kate Haride) brought in to care for the baby (by Tomas) that Dina could care less about. In the final half-hour, as the ghosts accumulate, Niels is crushed by fate and hangs himself, while Dina's little boy goes flying out of a small sailing boat in stormy weather.
"Dina" is just too much of a bad thing, even when it tries to come in for a happy landing. The production design, costumes and creepy ghost imagery show Bornedal is a director not afraid to spice up the usually restrained 19th-century milieu of family sagas. He's seemingly got no clue that watching this movie to the bitter end offers no rewards or insight into humanity, just cheap thrills.
I AM DINA
Northern Lights, Nordisk Film
Director: Ole Bornedal
Screenwriters: Jonas Cornell, Ole Bornedal
Based on the novel by: Herbjorg Wassmo
Producers: Per Holst, Axel Helgeland
Executive producers: Erik Crone, Frank Hubner, Gerhard Schmidt, Klaus Rettig, Eric Altmayer, Nicolas Altmayer
Director of photography: Dan Laustsen
Production designers: Steffen Aarfing, Marie i Dali
Editors: Thomas Krag, Molly Malene Steensgaard
Music: Marco Beltrami
Costume designer: Dominique Borg
Dina: Maria Bonnevie
Jacob: Gerard Depardieu
Leo Zukowskij: Christopher Eccleston
Dina's Father: Bjorn Floberg
Tomas: Hans Matheson
Niels: Mads Mikkelsen
Gertrude: Pernilla August
Running time -- 122 minutes
No MPAA rating
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